Chewing gum to track fertility: Ovulaid
The men took the supplements for a period of six months to test whether zinc and folic acid supplements would have a significant impact on various measures of fertility. Researchers found that there was no significant difference between the live birth rates of the experimental group or the placebo group ( 34% vs. 35%, respectively ).
Nor did they find any improvement in semen quality, which was measured six months later. Researchers found that no significant difference was measured between other measures of sperm health, such as movement, shape, or total sperm count.
However, interestingly the team found that sperm DNA fragmentation, which is associated with male infertility, was actually higher in the supplement group in comparison with the placebo group. If the supplements were to improve fertility, it would be expected that DNA fragmentation would be lower, not higher, as a result of taking them. Pregnancy supplements have also been found to be ineffective
This study comes just a few years after a study into the effectiveness of pregnancy multivitamins for women revealed that the supplements were ineffective at improving mothers’ or babies’ health . The scientists involved in this study dubbed the supplements as an expensive waste of time. They also criticized the marketing for the products for not being founded on actual scientific fact.
Other than folic acid, which has been proven to have a therapeutic role in the prevention of neural tube disorders, all other pregnancy supplements have failed to yield significant results in the lab.
The overall message is that the claims of dietary supplements for both male fertility and maternal/baby health are mostly not backed up by strong scientific evidence. While there is often no harm associated with taking them, the benefits are not supported, leading to people laying their hopes on products that don’t work. Journal reference:
Schisterman, E.F. et al. (2020). Effect of Folic Acid and Zinc Supplementation in Men on Semen Quality and Live Birth Among Couples Undergoing Infertility Treatment. JAMA. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.18714
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